The Portfolio Track View From Forrester's Sales Enablement Forum 2011

In addition to the sessions mentioned by Brad Holmes and Brian Lambert in their blog entries, we dedicated an entire track to sessions that discussed how the decisions made by portfolio teams relate to the efficiency (or not) of sales teams.

Participants in the portfolio track all consider themselves to be sales enablement professionals, but have job titles that include product management, sales operations, competitive intelligence, and marketing communications.

Despite this wide range of responsibilities, each person shares a common goal of improving their areas of responsibility in ways that improve sales efficiency.

Attendees who look at sales enablement through a portoflio lens expressed the following thoughts about the Forum:

  • We feel empowered by seeing and hearing so many sales enablement professional come together.
  • We need to make our company executives aware of the industry changes in sales enablement.
  • We have entrenched behaviors that we need to overcome (i.e. muscle memory).
  • We face a complex amount of change and need a way to communicate it clearly.
  • We need to understand how e can overcome organizational silos that increase complexity.
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PacSun's Integrated Marketing Lessons

Mondy Beller, the VP of eCommerce for PacSun, spoke just before I did at the Responsys event about the integrated marketing programs PacSun is developing. Here are the lessons I learned from her:

  • Your biggest priority should be to build a unified customer database. Beller gave some great examples of multichannel campaigns — running email or Facebook messages that match with customers' recent purchases or daily promotions that are running in store. None of these work without a single customer database that stores all of the customer information.
  • Develop trust with your customers. Beller said PacSun is lucky because its young target audience is both technology savvy and wants to engage in an interactive relationship with PacSun. This makes it easier for PacSun than for other brands to gain customer permission, registrations, and behavioral data. But PacSun still works to nurture trust with its audience. It uses QR codes in stores to get shoppers to log products they browse or to register for mobile promotions. It will also be using iPads to help sales reps show fashions or register customers for email or Facebook while they are in the store.
  • Use Facebook for research and relationship building. PacSun certainly uses Facebook to distribute promotions. But it also uses it to converse with customers. It reads and responds to comments fans post. It posts questions and conversation starters. And it listens to the community to test product ideas, pricing, and the buzz about current promotions. 
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What's In Store At Forrester's Marketing Forum

Is it really almost March? Hard to believe, sitting from my desk in Boston, where we are still thawing out from a heavy winter. But, my Outlook calendar shows that Forrester’s Marketing Forum 2011 is only six weeks away, and I am setting my sights on getting a sneak peek of spring in San Francisco this April!

This year’s event theme focuses on innovating into the next digital decade, which will be marked by new, proprietary digital platforms (such as iPad apps, connected TVs, and walled gardens like Facebook) that will drive even more channels for customer engagement. We call this phenomenon the Splinternet, and it means that behavior and expectations around how people access relevant content and interact with companies is changing yet again, and departments that are tasked with understanding and engaging consumers across channels must change too. Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when we came to terms with this thing called the online channel?

For market insights (MI) professionals, this shift into a more fragmented and digital world only increases the urgency to adapt organizationally and methodologically in order to bring consumer knowledge into the center of how companies make both tactical and strategic decisions. To this end, we’ve lined up a thought-provoking track of sessions specifically for MI professionals, outlining the future of this role, the ways in which companies are using new methods to reach key consumer groups, and how to provide insights that will support your marketing organization throughout a product or marketing lifecycle.

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Responsys Introduces The New School Of Marketing

I spoke last week at Interact 2011, a Responsys-sponsored event attended by about 600 of its current clients and prospects. The theme of this year's event was "The New School of Marketing," a framework Responsys has developed to help marketers better connect with empowered consumers. The fundamental principles of New School Marketing are that it is: permission-based, automated, cross-channel, and focused on engagement. See what Responsys thinks will change from current approaches to those that are part of New School Marketing:

I found the event to be extremely well produced (not just because it featured a fantastic performance by the iconic Cyndi Lauper -- see photos below) and full of some great marketer stories which I'd like to share in my next several posts.

What It Means When “Customer Experience” Appears In Marketing And Advertising

I waited until the last minute to get my car inspected this year. It was a Sunday, so my usual service station was closed. Luckily, the Firestone near my house was open and had availability. I was happy just to find a place, but the folks at Firestone made me happier by delivering a positive experience from end to end — clean store, polite service guy, clear expectations about timing, and a call to make sure I wanted to replace a rear brake light bulb. Then, when I went to pay, a message on the self-pay screen reinforced the idea that I had gotten a good experience. It read, “Committed to providing a positive customer experience, every time.” Naturally, I was glad to see the company making this commitment — and actually living up to it. I also got a chuckle out of the message, imagining the boardroom discussions that led to it appearing in front of me. And that got me thinking . . .

What does it mean when companies use the term “customer experience” when they’re talking to actual customers?

I’ve noticed this happening more and more over the past year or so, not in my research but in my life as a customer. Firestone’s not alone. AT&T uses “customer experience” on its website. Amica uses it in a TV ad. What does this trend mean? To me, two things:

  1. More companies are interested in customer experience. We already know that customer experience is a growing area of focus for companies, but seeing the term seep into marketing and advertising is just more evidence of this phenomenon. At the very least, it shows that companies think that their customers desire good experiences — versus just low prices or good products — and that companies feel the need to address the desire somehow.
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The Sales Track View From Forrester's Technology Sales Enablement Forum, 2011

Wow! We just came back from our first annual Technology Sales Enablement Forum (Feb. 14-15, 2011). 

Brad Holmes, the practice leader serving Technology Sales Enablement, shared on his blog that the theme for the Forum was New Buyers, New Demands: Accelerating Sales Performance. 

The objectives of the Forum were to help sales enablement professionals identify ways to:

  1. Shift vendor-centric product portfolios into customer-centric problem-solving pathways to business outcomes.
  2. Adapt a go-to-market approach to more effectively model the customer and help the sales team have more valuable sales conversations.
  3. Create strategic programs to better organize and coordinate sales support initiatives and spending.
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Lessons From Forrester's Inaugural Technology Sales Enablement Forum

Something quite remarkable happened in San Francisco this week. Counter to the tectonic norm in this amazing city, sales enablement came into alignment. How so?

Our team gathered with some 250 fellow SE professionals at our inaugural event focused on making those people in the role more successful. Over the course of two days, we talked about what buyers want from tech today, which is not tech but, rather, the end results that tech plays a role in delivering. We heard from George Colony, Forrester's founder, chairman, and CEO, that the majority of tech CEOs he interviewed don't believe their sales teams are keeping pace with their companies' strategic goals.

We learned from Principal Analyst Scott Santucci about outcome selling as a strategy to deliver on buyers' new demands for results, not more stuff. We shared stories about changing the focus of our efforts and investments in supporting sales by starting with customers' problems and using the sales conversation as the key design point. We shared stories about how to build consensus and win executive sponsorship for our initiatives and programs. We shared stories about things we have tried that worked -- and some that didn't. We heard from some remarkable sales enablement leaders, like Marci Meaux of CISCO and David Irwin of Allant Group, both blazing a path of success. In the halls and into the evening, we compared notes, we traded cards and contacts, we learned, and we laughed.

In the end, what was clear to me from both the main stage and the halls is that:

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The Eerie Similarities Between Groupon And Priceline

At the risk of someone saying I can’t let this Groupon thing go (I can’t), I saw a fascinating graphic the other day. Groupon has, as its proponents like to tell everyone they meet, the dubious distinction of being the fastest company to get to $1B in sales. Why I say dubious (and what I found fascinating about the graphic) is that the second-fastest ever to achieve the same milestone was none other than Priceline. How apropos because I can’t resist pointing out the similarities:

  • Both used tacky and expensive celebrity ads to promote their quirky brands (let’s call Timothy Hutton the William Shatner of this bubble).
  • Both thrive on the thrill of finding an outrageous deal (sales and scarcity go together like a horse and carriage; they’re two of the most effective merchandising tactics that exist).
  • Both are called disruptive models (Priceline lets travel buyers name their price; whereas, Groupon essentially lets companies split marketing costs directly with customers rather than with media companies).
  • Both have a “gross merchandise value” model (that basically means a lot of mystery around what customers pay and what the company actually earns).   
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Mobile Banking Will Displace Online Banking For Routine Interactions

2010 has shown us that mobile banking's time has finally come. Thanks to growing smartphone adoption, fast all-you-can-eat data plans, and more compelling mobile content, more people will start using mobile banking in the coming years.

Although this won’t happen overnight, the unique benefits of mobile banking, like simplicity, immediacy, and context, mean that it will eventually displace online banking for frequently used day-to-day banking tasks like checking account balances, viewing transaction histories, making transfers, and paying bills. By contrast, online banking will remain a more important sales channel.

If you are a Forrester client and want to read more about this topic, I encourage you to read my recent Forrester report.


Back From My Pilgrimage To Mobile’s Mecca

Once again, I spent a couple of days in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress (MWC). 

With 60,000 visitors (10,000 more than last year) — including an amazing 12,000 developers (!), 3,000 CEOs, and 2,900 journalists — MWC is the place to be for anyone wanting to make the most of mobile technologies.

Year after year, it is interesting to see how the show is becoming more global, more open to non-telecom players (advertisers, developers, etc.), and more open to connected devices other than just phones.

While it is difficult to summarize all the news and announcements, here are my key takeaways from MWC 2011:

  • Android, Android, Android.Google’s Android stand was the hit of MWC this year. Why? Very clever marketing: It was located in the main hall away from all the other players in the App Planet hall; it had a “cool” bar with animations; the Android robot logo was all over the place; and it featured interesting demonstrations from startups and key players. Google’s Android was helped by Apple’s absence and the lack of a serious upgrade to Windows Phone 7, unlike last year. Of course, the Nokia-Microsoft deal came up in most conversations. Forrester has already published its take on the strategic implications of this key announcement (clients can read it here). As my colleague Charles Golvin sums it up: “Nokia hopes to produce its first Windows Phone in 2011, but it will not bring a significant portfolio to the market in volume until 2012 — a lifetime in today’s smartphone market.” With 300,000 Android phone activations per day and 170 Android-based handsets currently available from 27 vendors, Android is definitely getting a lot of traction. 
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